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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Structures | Henderson Tower
Mini Diorama


For the Houston S Gaugers layout, I decided to continue this project by building a basic diorama. The structure sits on the joint of three modules, and so the gaps between those modules is easily visible, so I am hoping that the diorama hides some of that. The diorama base also allows me to deal with the electrical connections. The wye modules have some electronics under them, which requires a connection to 110-volt power of the show's facilities. So, with that in mind I decided not to use batteries, but rather a 9-volt wall-wart power supply for the LEDs. Since the power supply wires will be fed through a hole drilled into the modules, the wiring needs to be removed when the layout is taken down, so I decided to attach a barrier strip for the wiring. I used five-minute epoxy to glue the barrier strip to the plexiglass, but found out the hard way that the perfectly smooth plexiglass doesn't attach to any glue; the barrier strip popped right off after the glue dried. I roughed up the surface and then re-glued it with superglue, and that worked perfectly.

To complete a basic scene on the diorama (one day before packing for the show), I painted the plexiglass top surface, applied glue and fine ballast to represent the parking lot's gravel (back of the building), applied some green ground foam at the front side of the building (the mainline track side), and painted and decorated the two rows of hedges. The hedges was a new idea (for me). I found some rough scrubbing pads at Home Depot. When I cut the two strips off and covered them with hairspray and some fine Woodland Scenics green foam, they look remarkably like well-maintained hedges. I then glued them to the plexiglass base with some white glue. I glued some pieces of plastic to the plexiglass to denote where the structure should sit, but the structure is not glued to the diorama. That way I can attach and detach the wires for the interior lighting.